Photo by Gary Schroyen

Officers forced to kill 4 bears in Sooke

‘It’s highly unsettling and frustrating,’ says conservation officer

A B.C. conservation officer is frustrated after four black bears had to be killed in the Sooke area over the last three months – one more than in all of 2016.

“It’s highly unsettling and frustrating for us to have to go and kill these bears just because they have gotten used to eating human food,” said officer Scott Norris.

The latest bear was killed on June 27 near Grant and Maple roads. The bear was struck by a car last year and walked with a limp.

The bear was known to be a garbage hound, and when she gave birth this spring, would continually leave her youngster behind and head out to search for trash to bring back and feed to the cub.

This posed a strong risk of unwary humans coming between the mother and her offspring, a situation where a bear can predictably turn dangerous.

Adult black bears require 20,000 calories a day, so when they raid garbage and compost bins that are left out and find that they are easily replenished, they keep coming back to the food source, lose their fear of humans and can become aggressive.

“If people don’t put their garbage away, bears will get into it,” said Norris. “People need to realize how big of a role they play in this.”

Bear hot-spots like Revelstoke, Kamloops, Port Coquitlam, Whistler, Squamish and Port Alberni have crafted municipal garbage bylaws that eliminate the temptations that lead bears astray. The District of Sooke has no waste management legislation but staff are investigating “bearwise bylaws” following a request last fall from Transition Sooke.

The District of Sooke does not have any waste management legislation but staff investigating bearwise bylaws have.

“It’s a tragedy every time a bear is killed and the frustrating part is that it’s entirely preventable,” said Debb Read, coordinator of Wild Wise Sooke. “Most people are doing a great job, but there are just enough irresponsible homeowners out there to make this a perennial problem.’

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